December 30, 2007

Annus producit, non ager

In English: The year brings the yield, not the field.

Well, for once, the English version of this saying has a nice touch that is lacking in the Latin: the English rhymes (yield-field), while the Latin has only alliteration to rely on (annus-ager). You can find the saying in Erasmus's Adagia, 1.1.44. Erasmus includes this variation, also with alliteration: Annus producit fructum, non arvum, "The year yields the fruit, not the field." Erasmus also provides a nice extended metaphorical application of the proverb, arguing that it is education, not birth, which yields virtuous character: ad virtutem educationem longe plus adferre momenti, quam genus, "one's education is of far more importance in contributing to virtue than one's lineage." As a teacher, of course I agree with that one, too!

I wanted to choose a proverb today in honor of the New Year that is about to begin. I am a fan of the changing of the year. I suppose, in fact, that it is my favorite holiday. This year, I will get to celebrate it twice! Once, at 7 PM (that is midnight in Scotland) with some friends who have to get up very early in the morning to go to work and who cannot celebrate at midnight E.S.T. So, after our celebration on Scottish time, we will then have another celebration for the arrival of the New Year on the east coast of the U.S. As for Scotland, you might check out the Latin translation of the Scottish song, Auld Lang Syne, which I've posted at Andrew Reinhard's eClassics ning website.

The message of today's proverb is a very positive one for the coming New Year and for the passage of time. Of course, the field where you do your planting is important, and you do have to sow the seeds... but be patient: even the best field and the best seeds will not give you a harvest over night. Instead, you have to let time work its magic: annus producit, non ager.

With the new year comes the new semester, so I'll be taking new week off from blogging in order to get my courses ready for Spring 2008 (for those of you who don't know, my real job has nothing to do with Latin - I teach online courses in Myth-Folklore, World Literature and Indian Epics at the University of Oklahoma).

So, I'll see you again here a week from today. For now, Happy New Year, and here is today's proverb read out loud:

1613. Annus producit, non ager.

The number here is the number for this proverb in Latin Via Proverbs: 4000 Proverbs, Mottoes and Sayings for Students of Latin.

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